Blowing In the Wind | Greene County | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

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Blowing In the Wind

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Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:51 pm
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The Abramses put a Skystream 3.7 turbine on their own property to begin. They live in a 2,500-sqare-foot converted 1800s barn on a plot that measures just under five acres. Their single turbine is 50 feet high and has helped the Abramses save 80 percent annually on electricity. “We have increased our electrical usage with the addition of electrical heaters and the price of electricity has gone up this winter, and still we have seen a decrease in our bill,” says Jessica.

Bob Longewell of Hillsdale was one of Green in Greene’s first residential clients, and he is also noticing how his 50-foot-tall Skystream 3.7 tower is making a difference. “When it’s producing more electrical power than I’m using, it will stop the meter or turn it backward, which is credit to me,” he says. “Plus, I love to watch the turbine when it’s whipping in the wind.

Longewell found Green in Greene through an advertisement in his local paper. He had investigated turning to solar power, but feared he did not have enough sun to make this feasible. He knew he had wind, and he decided he wanted a windmill. He had spoken to other providers, but was not satisfied. When he talked to Keith, he knew he had found his installer. Keith’s simple, straightforward manner and thorough knowledge sold him on Green and Greene, particularly after the two men had met on Longewell’s property so that Keith could evaluate the viability of the site.

Such site evaluation is given to clients for free or at minimal cost (to cover travel expenses) after an initial phone contact seems to indicate that the location is suitable for a wind turbine. While wind maps of Greene County reveal an average wind speed of 12 miles per hour, such maps are only 80 percent accurate. A site must have at least eight-mile-per-hour winds, but more ideally it should average a wind speed of ten miles per hour, and Keith must determine that this crucial component is in place. The property must span at least one-quarter acre and be unobstructed by tall trees and structures, which create undesirable turbulence. Lastly, local zoning must allow a structure that is at least 42 feet high. Happily, Green in Greene does work with local governments to create new ordinances if none are in place. In fact, in an effort to avoid legal impediments, Jessica and Keith have been methodically contacting town after town in Greene County and the surrounding areas so that future clients will experience no delays in their journey from site evaluation to turbine connection.
Apart from potential restrictions due to undesirable location issues and legal stickiness, there are a few other downsides to wind power. At present, there is a six-to-eight-week waiting period for a Skystream 3.7 to arrive from Arizona, although the Abramses hope that this window closes as increased demand ramps up supply. Further, the initial financial outlay of $20,000 for equipment and installation may take up to five years to recover, although state and federal programs do provide grants, incentives, and tax breaks, including a 15-year exemption on property taxes.

Keith and Jessica also point out that installing a wind turbine means decreasing dependence on fossil fuels and foreign supplies of energy. Over the course of its 20-year existence, the Skystream 3.7 can offset more than 6,000 pounds of global warming pollutants. In the process, it feeds energy back to the utility grid, boosting the grid’s capability. Once the windmill is paid off, money is saved, freedom is gained, and the environment is nurtured. And if small-scale wind harvesting catches on, the local economy will be stimulated by the creation of green-collar jobs and the increased values of homes that use wind power.

Currently, Green in Greene serves all of New York State and certain territories within Massachusetts, but the Abramses are pleased by the prospect of working outside these limits. Blazing bravely forward like the good wind itself, Keith and Jessica Abrams would surely make the Hopis proud as they harness this natural force for the benefit of all.

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